Super Mario Bros. Wonder review: Not Mush-room for improvement

James Busby
Super Mario Bros. Wonder characters

Super Mario Bros. Wonder is the latest 2D instalment in the iconic franchise, but does it live up to the hype or does it fall short?

It’s been 11 years since Nintendo has given us a 2D Mario game, with New Super Mario Bros U. on the Wii U. While that title was eventually rereleased for the Switch back in 2019, a new adventure of the pint-sized plumber’s 2D antics has been absent from the Nintendo catalog. 

That’s a long time when you consider we’re six years into the portable console’s lifecycle, especially now that news of a Switch 2 looms. So, when Super Mario Bros. Wonder was announced during the Nintendo Direct, many fans were incredibly excited – if not, a little apprehensive. 

Nintendo has played it safe when creating 2D renditions of Mario, often only shifting the dial forward ever so slightly from the days of the Super Nintendo. That is a stark contrast to Mario’s 3D games, which have become synonymous with Nintendo’s brightest and freshest ideas. So much so, some might even consider it surprising that Nintendo has opted to return to the 2D plane, rather than make another Super Mario Odyssey.

Fortunately, Super Mario Bros. Wonder demonstrates that when it comes to creating fun-filled 2D platforming experiences – Nintendo still has a handful of crafty tricks left up its sleeves. 

Super Mario Bros. Wonder Key Details

  • Price: $59.99 | £49.99
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release Date: October 20, 2023
  • Platforms: Nintendo Switch

Classic 2D Mario experience with a twist

After receiving an invitation from Prince Florian, the tiny caterpillar who rules over the Flower Kingdom, Mario and co. rush over to extend greetings to the insect royalty. However, as is usually the case with Nintendo’s mascot, things go awry pretty quickly. Much to the horror of the local floral-themed denizens, Bowser steals the kingdom’s Wonder Flower and subsequently transforms into a sentient castle – vowing to destroy the world. 

It’s then up to Mario and his colorful crew to claim the Royal Seeds scattered through the Petal Isles and the six worlds surrounding, in order to stop the King Koopa from unleashing mayhem. It’s not a unique story in the Mario formula, but it’s here where the game’s main gimmick is revealed — the addition of Wonder Flowers. 

Super Mario Bros. Wonder Goomba Mario.
Wonder Flowers really make for some interesting scenarios.

Wonder Flowers are hidden power-ups that can be found in the midway point of each level, but unlike coins and other collectibles, they provide whacky twists that shake up both the gameplay and the way Mario traverses the course. For example, one Wonder Flower turned a course into a nightmarish stealth mission. Mario was transformed into a Goomba, with the catch being that the roles reversed and all the enemies came after me as their prey. 

All I could do was nervously hide behind trees and scamper over to moving platforms to avoid becoming a tasty treat for our Goomba-eating foes. Another Wonder Flower completely switched the viewpoint to a top-down perspective, forcing me to carefully guide Mario through narrow walkways, while avoiding pinball-style bounce blocks that threatened to send me reeling into nearby enemies. 

It’s this blend of gameplay mashups that give Super Mario Bros. Wonder’s levels more pizzaz and, well, wonder. While courses tended to lean towards the easier side and there were a few duds, I often found myself reveling in the sheer silliness and creativity that was present throughout Mario Wonder’s worlds. It’s fantastic fun and the new Wonder Flower power-up does a lot to help make the game much, much more than just a traditional Goomba stomp. 

Ele-fun power-ups make a splash

Elephant Mario on top of a pipe in Mario Wonder
The Elephant power-up is a fantastic addition that only adds to the fun.

The Wonder Flower isn’t the only new power-up on the block. There’s the addition of the adorable Elephant Fruit, which as the name suggests, enables Mario and co. to transform into an elephant. This gives you access to a powerful trunk attack, that sends enemies flying and blocks crumbling. 

You can even scoop up water with your trunk and unleash a deadly ranged attack, that has the added benefit of reviving withered plants. The latest ranged power-up is, the Bubble Flower, which shoots out oversized bubbles that ensnare enemies, transforming them into coins and even hitting those that are hiding behind walls. Mario can also jump atop the bubbles to reach otherwise inaccessible areas. 

There’s even a Drill Mushroom, that gives Mario the ability to tunnel underground or through the ceiling of a level, providing new ways to reach hidden locations and sneak past enemies. The hardened drill cap also protects Mario from enemies that attack him from above, while it can also be activated to drill through hard objects like crystals. 

The usual Super Mushroom and Fire Flowers are all present as well, but the new power-ups steal the show. I often found myself using these new additions over the classic options, just for the fun factor alone. 

A badge of creative honor 

Mario using the Wall Jump Badge
Badges only add to the creativity seen in Super Mario Bros. Wonder.

Tying directly into the new power-ups is the Badge system, a feature that also serves to provide further twists to gameplay. Badges are unlocked via completing challenge levels and can be purchased from the flower-themed vendors that appear in the overworld. Depending on the Badge equipped, Mario is able to utilize new powers.

Action Badges like the Wall-Climb Jump provide Mario with a vertical boost when climbing up walls, while Boost Badges give you utility options that can help give you more survivability and help locate nearby items. If that wasn’t enough, Expert Badges provide an extra layer of challenge when equipped. For example, the Invisibility badge hides Mario from enemies, but also makes him disappear onscreen – making every jump and dash a precarious affair. 

Combine this with the smorgasbord of new power-ups, Wonder Flower level mashups, charming environments, multiplayer, and couch co-op options, and you have a recipe for one of the best, and most replayable, Mario adventures we’ve had in recent years. 

Verdict – 4/5

While Super Mario Bros. Wonder doesn’t revolutionize Nintendo’s beloved series, the charming 2D platformer successfully pays homage to its roots, paving the way forward with unique twists that keep the gameplay feeling fresh. 

Mario Bros. Wonder may not take the crown from Super Mario Bros. 3 or Oddysey, but the latest outing encapsulates the very essence of what a 2D Mario game should be. It’s silly, whacky, and most importantly great fun.

The fact that Nintendo can still deliver a great 2D Mario game 42 years after the first title hit our screens back in 1981, really is a wonder in itself.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch

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About The Author

James is Dexerto's Associate Games Editor who joined the website in 2020. He graduated from university with a degree in Journalism, before spending four years freelancing for GamesRadar+, PCGamesN, RPS, LoL Esports, Red Bull Gaming, and many more. You can find him covering everything from CoD, Apex Legends, Genshin Impact, and Monster Hunter. Need to get in touch? Email James at